Samivaya JD is the human and story behind his self-titled YouTube channel, which offers a glimpse into the many unique aspects of his life. His personable videos offer a window into not just one, but many minority labels, including the culture and lifestyles that come with them.
But what are they, exactly? And who is he? Read on to discover a glimpse of this young man’s story.
Who is Samivaya JD?
Samivaya JD, better known as JD, has a kaleidoscope of labels that make up his identity. He is Hopi, for one. Samivaya is his tribal name, whereas JD is his nickname. Beyond that, he has albinism, is legally blind, and is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Needless to say, he’s used to being different. Growing up in an indigenous community where the only light-skinned people around were teachers or the few older members of the tribe who also had albinism, he naturally stood out.
His condition is called oculocutaneous, which affects his skin tone, his hair color, and his vision. He’s been legally blind since birth, which set him apart even more as his condition planted him at the front of the class with needs for assistive technology and resources.
“My eyes are sensitive to bright light, direct life, and glare,” JD explains. “So if my teachers wrote in a red or pink marker on a white background, I couldn’t see it very well.”
He is nearsighted, often wears sunglasses to reduce bright lights and glare, and he can’t legally drive. Yet it hasn’t stopped him from thriving. When JD isn’t creating content for his YouTube channel, he works at a middle school in Tucson, Arizona. There, he teaches his students how to understand, accept, and embrace their own individual identities.
“We have several students who are going through a phase in their life where they’re just discovering themselves,” JD says. “I’m out in my work environment and I try to make myself available as a resource. But to find that resource in other people, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.”
While a support system is always encouraged, it isn’t the whole formula. Whether you have a disability or you find yourself identifying with a label that isn’t considered the “norm”, accepting who you are must start within yourself.
“I think my purpose is coming from an educational stance,” JD admits. “I’m wanting to advocate and educate other people and break these stereotypes; these notions that other people have. But when it comes to having a visible disability and something that is noticeable about your presence, I think it has to come to your own terms. The one thing that I have learned through making my content and interacting with other leaders in their community, it’s something that has to come from within.”
Everyone Has a Story to Tell
JD firmly believes that we are all a living story that learns and evolves from the narratives of others as much as our own experiences. In fact, it’s a driving force behind his YouTube channel and its more than 1,800 followers.
“My number one message is we all have our own stories to share,” JD proclaims. “That’s what I’m doing through this channel. I’m allowing other people to look into my experiences and sharing these different chapters I have to share with an audience that wishes to see it. Traditionally, teaching has been done through storytelling and it’s through stories that learning becomes intimate. In sharing our stories, we are sharing our vulnerabilities with other people.”
Some chapters are better than others, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be experienced fully. When you’re different or you live with a disability, it’s important to face and understand it.
“You’re always going to encounter some sort of obstacle regardless if we have overcome so much already in the past,” he reminds us.
We have to accept these limitations and to accept who we are while finding joy in the things we are capable of. Yet it’s also important to remember that many things in life have alternative paths or solutions.
“We all have our strengths,” JD says. “Our conditions may hinder us from being able to perform certain tasks, but that doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves. Look at me, I’m legally blind and I’m going on year two now of coaching [soccer]!”
A Word on Bridging the Accessibility Gap
One thing JD did want to mention is the need for us to bridge the gap between the majority and those with accessibility needs. In a world that’s in constant evolution, especially in our digital age, we need to remember how to include everyone.
“When new technology gets out, one of the things that get left out is how can you include the disabled community,” JD states. “Even if you are not part of the disabled community, there is always a community out there that will always have to advocate for inclusion.”
Disabled or not, change happens only when we acknowledge all communities and work together toward a unified world. This includes bridging the accessibility gap in today’s society.
We’re All In This Together
“It’s something we’re always going to encounter because it takes everybody coming together in order to help others see the bigger picture,” JD says.
And here at Dreamscape Foundation, we agree wholeheartedly. While it often takes a conscious effort to see the world through others’ eyes, doing so allows us to work together toward a community that embraces everyone, differences and all.« PreviousNext »